Let's ride! (Safely)

  • Published
  • By Lorraine Amaro
  • 552nd Air Control Wing
With motorcycle accidents on the rise and nasty weather ahead, it is time to remember safety when riding - on and off-base.

The Tinker Riders and Mentors program is designed to help newer riders transition from controlled courses to open roads and highways that can pose dangers for inexperienced motorcyclists and other motor vehicles.

"When you get out on the freeway and you're going 70 miles per hour and you have a truck coming one way and 18-wheeler coming up behind you it can be a little more stressful than on a bike course," said Master Sgt. Cary Beagle, Vice President of TRAM.

Every Thursday, TRAM meets at the Tinker Club at 11 a.m. where potential members can attend and decide if they would like to be a part of the program. The group also has rides at least once a month, as well as rides to locations throughout the Oklahoma City Metro for lunch or dinner.

For wanna-be riders who haven't hit the road or purchased a bike yet, TRAM will send you to the Oklahoma Rider Education Program (OREP), a state-wide training program that assists riders in getting the coveted "M" on their license which allows you to ride on base. Experienced riders can join in on the fun too with a refresher course or a "train the trainer" course where they can become instructors themselves. 

"The Basic Rider Course teaches you how to ride a motorcycle, from starting the engine and shifting to making U-turns and high-speed maneuvers," said 2nd Lt. Kinder Blacke, Deputy of Public Affairs, 552 Air Control Wing, who recently attended the two-day course. "It was a fun, low-stress atmosphere where you could get comfortable on a bike without worrying about crashing your own!"

Since motorcycles are so costly, the Basic Rider Course provides bikes to learn on, saving you the wear and tear on your own bike.

Uninformed riders may not realize the cost of being a motorcyclist, including the bike itself, mandatory training and protective gear.

"There are military requirements for what gear you have to wear as a military member riding on or off base. You need to spend a good amount of money on your gear, if you buy cheap and get into an accident, the cheap stuff isn't going to protect you," said Sergeant Beagle.

He suggests good boots that at least cover your ankle, gloves, a good Kevlar jacket and a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet.

Some quick tips from Sergeant Beagle are to always be aware of other riders. Very often other drivers may make mistakes that put you in harm's way simply because they don't see you. Also, take every opportunity to attend safety and training classes as well as study up on riding.

"Joining a group is the quickest way to gain experience from seasoned riders," said Sergeant Beagle. "Riding in groups is also safer. Many people like to ride solo, but if you do, make sure someone knows what you're doing and where you're heading in case of an accident."

For riders or potential riders interested in the motorcycle programs available, contact Master Sgt. Cary Beagle at 405-204-1346.